The Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport will host a dedication ceremony at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20, to complete the county’s naming of the airport terminal for longtime Airport Committee Chairman Ellis Wood.
Wood, founder of the local paving and site prep contracting company that bears his name, has chaired the committee of volunteers since the 1990s, helping plan and oversee improvements to the airport. In past years he was also an active aviator, serving as aerial chaperone to his friend the late evangelist Michael Guido of Metter and piloting a small helicopter in support of area public safety agencies.
In May, state Sen. Billy Hickman, agribusiness leader and past county commission chairman Raybon Anderson and current county officials surprised Wood with an announcement of the naming decision during a Bulloch County Board of Commissioners meeting. A temporary banner for the Ellis G. Wood Aviation Complex was unfurled at that time.
Now, the permanent signs are ready.
“Ultimately it’s his leadership and his influence through the many years he’s chaired the Airport Committee that have contributed to the airport’s success,” County Manager Tom Couch said this week. “So there were really a lot of community people behind the scenes – you know, your Billy Hickmans and your Doug Lamberts and others – who thought it was time that we gave him some kind of honor or homage at the airport itself.”
The airport has long been a joint asset of Bulloch County and the city of Statesboro. But since the Georgia Service Delivery Strategy Act of 1997 required local governments to define their roles and reduce duplication of services, the county government has been officially responsible for the airport’s operation and maintenance.
In earlier decades, a company served as fixed-base operator, or FBO, of the airport, but Wood and the committee oversaw the transition to make it more of a county-run airport, Couch noted. Early in Wood’s tenure, the county hired its first airport manager, and other people involved in the airport operation are now county employees.
“I think he can be credited in a great way with the leadership for making the switch from an FBO to more of a county operation,” Couch said, “and of course, his being chairman of the Airport Committee, he’s been very influential with all of his networks and connections in getting us very robust funding from the state and the federal government to make improvements.”
Kathy Boykin, current Statesboro-Bulloch County Airport manager, notes that Wood led in getting the airport an instrument landing system, which in turn has allowed it to handle daily UPS cargo flights.
“So he’s been very instrumental in that, and he’s been very instrumental through the years in helping us get funding, just like we got the runway rehabbed a few years ago and we’re getting ready to start rehabbing the taxiway,” Boykin said. “That project has been approved and bid out, and it’s under contract now. Mr. Ellis has been there through all of that.”
Another project, the up to $750,000 installation of a second two-bay rental hangar for corporate planes, with county-backed financing to be repaid from airport revenues, got underway this year, and Boykin says it may be completed in February.
But the terminal building hasn’t received any recent additions, except for signage sporting a new but familiar name.
“It’s to show our appreciation for everything he’s done through the years, because he’s put untold hours and thought into this and is one of the most knowledgeable people you’ll ever meet,” Boykin said.